PBA-bound NLEX Road Warriors made a fitting sendoff in the PBA D-League by complete domination in route to clinching the Foundation Cup Title.
Amateur standouts Ronald Pascual of San Sebastian and Jake Pascual of San Beda combined for 13 points in the telling fourth quarter as NLEX hold on for a n 81-78 victory over fellow pro-bound Blackwater Sports on Monday for a sweep in the Finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Road Warriors earned its sixth PBA D-League championships in seven conferences having only loss the title last Foundation Cup to Blackwater and finally made a sweet revenge this time.
The Pascuals scored eight unanswered points in the final quarter to seize control of Game Two for the Road Warriors, who completed a 13-game sweep of the conference for a fitting send-off before they enter the PBA for the pro league's 40th season.
The Road Warriors wrapped up the best-of-three title series, 2-0.
Jake Pascual lead NLEX onslaught with 15 points, bruising big man Ola Adeogun added 14 along with 14 rebounds while Ronald Pascual contributed 13 on 2-of-3 shooting from three-point range for NLEX, which avenged its defeat over Blackwater Sports in last year’s title series of this same conference.
NLEX swept the entire tournament for the second time after pulling off the same feat in the 2012 Foundation Cup. The Road Warriors fell a year later as they were swept by the Elite in the Finals to break a string of four straight championships.
The Road Warriors then bounced back by bagging the title earlier this year during the season-opening Aspirants Cup when they beat Big Chill.
But this title for the multi-titled franchise certainly is the sweetest for them.
“This is much sweeter. When I said last conference that it was redemption, this is the real redemption due to the fact that we swept Blackwater,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
NLEX turned a 65-67 deficit into a 73-67 lead with Jake Pascual making a three-point play and Ronald Pascual nailed a deep three from the right wing with 6:38 left in the game.
Ex-pro Reil Cervantes scored a jumper with 1:58 to go to cut the deficit to two, but Jake Pascual converted a scoop shot to stretch the lead back to four points.
Cervantes had a game-high 31 points on 10-of-25 shooting from the field but missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer in the waning seconds of Game Two.
Kevin Alas, the conference MVP who was awarded earlier, sealed the win and the title by splitting his two free throws with 0.8 seconds left.
The Elite lost after the Road Warriors held the largest lead of the ballgame, 40-28, powered by an 11-0 run, but recovered to take a 53-47 edge in the third period that set up the tight contest.
Former pro Pamboy Raymundo added 13 points while Aspirants' Cup MVP Garvo Lanete chipped in 12 for NLEX. Alas was held to 3 points but it rarely mattered most.
Kevin Ferrer was the only other bright spot for Blackwater as he backstopped Cervantes with 20 points. No other players scored in double figures for the Elite.
NLEX (81) - J. Pascual 15, Adeogun 14, Raymundo 13, R. Pascual 13, Lanete 12, Dela Rosa 5, Alas 3, Dela Cruz 2, K. Pascual 2, Ganuelas 2, Long 0.
Blackwater Sports (78) - Cervantes 31, Ferrer 20, J. Cruz 9, M. Cruz 5, Mangahas 3, Llagas 3, Pinto 3, Bulawan 2, Austria 2, Ciriacruz 0, Pe 0, Trollano 0, Soyud 0.
Quarterscores: 27-20; 42-38; 62-62; 81-78.
--- with reports from Spin.ph
PBA-bound NLEX sweeps Blackwater in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup Finals for sixth title in seven tries
Reviewed by Jay-R Bayon-on